March 15, 2011
(New York) The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents a New York City firefighter who survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks, today argued at a hearing in the New York Supreme Court that the building that would be replaced by the "Ground Zero Mosque" must be preserved.
"This site, in the shadow of the Twin Towers where landing gear from one of the hijacked planes landed, is part of sacred, hallowed ground and not the place to build a mosque," said Brett Joshpe, Counsel for the ACLJ. "Attempting to do so deeply offends many Americans - including family and friends of the 9/11 victims - and is simply wrong."
Joshpe added: "Because of the political correctness surrounding a proposed mosque at the site, the Landmarks Commission deviated from its own procedures and succumbed to pressure from the Mayor's office in failing to landmark the building at issue."
The ACLJ filed suit against the City and the complaint is posted here. The suit names New York Citys Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the New York City Department of Buildings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the mosques developers.
In its Opposition to the Respondents Motion to Dismiss and its Reply Affirmation filed with the court, the ACLJ argues that the LPC abused its discretion by declining to landmark the building that would be replaced by the mosque, a building that was severely damaged on 9/11 but remained standing. The ACLJ alleges that political pressure from the Mayor Bloombergs office caused the LPC to act in contravention of prior precedent and to treat the subject building different from nearly identical buildings in the past.
The ACLJ notes that the City already has landmarked 148 similar buildings and calls the Citys rationale for not landmarking the building "the very definition of arbitrary and capricious."
It also admonishes the City for arguing that the ACLJ's client, Tim Brown, a firefighter and first responder who survived the Twin Towers' collapse and lost nearly 100 friends, does not have standing to bring the case, saying, "to say that Mr. Brown does not have standing because '[t]here's no damage different than any member of the public,' is to insult those who made the ultimate sacrifices and took the gravest risks on 9/11."
"When we brought this case, many dismissed it as a nuisance case that would soon be dismissed," Joshpe said. "We have clearly shown, however, that the LPC did indeed act arbitrarily and deviated from its precedent due to political pressures from the Mayors Office and because of the political correctness of a mosque at Ground Zero. We will continue to fight for our client, Tim Brown, as well as for all those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and all Americans who agree that this mosque has no place at Ground Zero."
The ACLJ also has heard from nearly 300,000 Americans who have signed on to the Committee to Stop the Ground Zero Mosque.
The court said a decision on today's hearing could come within four weeks.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C.
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